Climate change is no longer something in the distant future: From severe storms to wildfires to rising sea levels, we're already experiencing the deadly side effects of a warming planet. While we can do nothing to stop climate change immediately, we can take steps to mitigate it.
So, as an individual, what can you do? Here are five ways that you can help fight climate change:
You can take many steps to help the environment and fight climate change, including ensuring your home is energy efficient.
You can maximize your impact on the environment by encouraging your friends and family to fight climate change.
It's also important to vote for renewable initiatives and support candidates focused on fighting climate change.
If you want to learn more about going solar to help fight climate change, use the EnergySage Marketplace to browse solar panels based on price, efficiency, brand, quality, and more.
Yeah... you're probably not surprised that we put this one first. And admittedly, we may be a little biased. But in all honesty, going solar is one of the most impactful steps you can take to help mitigate climate change.
Every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you generate with a home solar panel system helps reduce your reliance on electricity from the grid that, unfortunately, still distributes plenty of brown energy (i.e., energy from fossil fuels). Despite all our progress and the growing number of states committing to clean energy targets, the U.S. continues to generate most of its electricity from fossil fuels – about 60% in 2020!
When you replace electricity from the grid with solar electricity, you shrink your carbon footprint significantly and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere. Consider this: the average U.S. household consumes 10,469 kWh of electricity annually. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that comes to about 7.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually – the carbon equivalent of using 835 gallons of gasoline or 8,200 pounds of coal. And that's only in one year: think of the pollution you'll avoid by replacing that with zero-emission, clean electricity over the 25+ year lifetime of a solar panel system!
Insulation, appliances, and lighting, oh my! If you're looking for one of the easiest ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions, you can get your feet wet with some energy efficiency measures.
The goal of every energy efficiency measure–from weatherization to swapping out traditional lights for LEDs to buying ENERGY STAR appliances–is to decrease your energy consumption. As mentioned above, everything you can do to cut your energy consumption–electricity and gas–helps reduce the overall use of and reliance on fossil fuels that cause global warming.
Don't know where to begin? Start with a professional energy audit; this can help you determine your home's most significant energy-saving opportunities. But before finding an energy auditor, it's a good idea to do some local research – many utility companies or state organizations offer free or discounted energy audits and may even provide impressive incentives to help decrease the costs of energy upgrades.
Do you drive to work every day in a car that runs on gasoline? You're not alone – not by a long shot. In fact, in 2019, most greenhouse gas emissions came from the transportation sector (29%). And that's not surprising, considering an average passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide each ear.
If we want to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, we need to make significant changes in how we get from point A to point B. Opting for all-electric or hybrid cars certainly helps (note: you can use the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Carbon Counter tool to evaluate the environmental benefit of that transition). You can even try to go a step further by taking advantage of public transportation and walking and biking when possible.
What steps do your friends take to fight climate change? Your family? Awareness of climate change is spreading fast, but not fast enough; a survey from Pew Research suggests that, as of 2020, 60% of Americans believed that "climate change is a major threat to the well-being of the United States," up from 44% in 2009. If you ask us, anything below 100% is too low, especially with what's at stake.
You can take any measures to reduce your climate impact, but it will do little good if everyone around you continues at the status quo – we all share one atmosphere and one climate, so we're all in this fight together. Do what you can to promote action against climate change in your spheres of influence. And while we're on the topic of power...
In this article, we've tried to focus on the action you can take–as an individual–to help combat climate change. But while reducing individual emissions is essential, real change must also happen on a larger scale.
A recent study out of UC Berkeley suggests reaching 90% carbon-free electricity by 2035 is feasible. Still, it warns that this level of decarbonization won't be possible without new, clean energy policies – and strong ones, at that.
That's why it's so important to get out and vote: climate change is a taxpayer issue, and it's on the ballot of every local, state, and federal election. When you vote, support leaders who understand the threat of climate change, have plans for mitigation and adaptation and promise swift and aggressive action.
Whether you want to decrease your carbon footprint or save money on electricity bills, there has never been a better time to go solar. Sign up on the EnergySage Marketplace to see how much pollution you can offset with a solar panel installation.